Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Five Superb Poems by Andre F. Peltier



Man, the Masochist

 

When the aliens arrive,

they will look upon our works

baffled, confounded,

aghast.

They may come in peace,

they may come to conquer,

they may come just looking

for someone to

probe,

but their findings won’t

make sense.

The probes will be the same

as always:

six inches in to check for cancer

and undigested red-meat.

The probes that occur

in every sector of the galaxy

yield the same results.

 

But not on Earth.

 

They won’t know what to make of

our masochism.

They’ve never conquered

a planet or come in peace

or just for a quick probe

and found such self-hatred.

“To hunt yourselves to oblivion

is not logical,”

they will mutter quietly

to each other

Their saucers won’t run

on internal combustion.

No fission or fusion

or dilithium crystals.

No steam with the exhaust

of a thousand forests,

the exhaust of a thousand

tons of mountain ash.

Only masochism can explain

our plight.

 

We look at the universe and say,

“Harder, Master,”

as the universe unleashes

another lash with its

cat-o-nine tails,

another lash from the whip

of climate change.

“Thank you, sir,

may I have another,”

we respond

when another young man

is killed by the cops.

When another young army

is ploughed under in

the sands of Kuwait.,

and the Bulldozer Assault

becomes standard strategy

in military academies

around the globe.

When another young generation

is fed, screaming and alone,  

to the ovens of our discontent.

“Yes, yes,” we scream

as we raise our crosses, our stars,

our moons to vacant eyes

and deaf ears.

They will look upon our works

baffled, confounded,

aghast. 

 

 

Doin’ That Dynamite Bridge Rag

 

On the other side of

destiny rides

Poncho Villa.

He waits with

crossed bandoliers

loaded for bear

and loaded for

Juarez.

We walk softly

as the codger with

tobacco juice beard

laughs manically at the

clouds.

He laughs as we turn tail

and hit the road;

he laughs when

Urique Arroyo

runs death dry,

but he never laughs

when we return. 

“Whatever happened to

The Fresno Kid?

Where is Crazy Sam

when we need him?

Where has he gone?”

we ask the stars.

Longing for a token

for the last train heading

north,

longing for a final kiss goodnight,

we sleep beneath

the Milky Way

and count our fading dreams.

We tip our hats to

Johnny Nevada

and forget our tongues

in howling coyote

wilderness.

The thunder and lightning

country burns

on horizons of plateau gold

and yucca stalks

bloom in

oar-less seas.

 

Chug, chug, chug

goes the black steam

engine.

Chug, chug, chug

rides the chestnut mare.

The splinters of

the rail bridge

float down that old

Rio Grande

as oily moustache smiles

tip back dusty tequila.

The bluegill and

the crappie come

tickle our toes.

The scent of the rawhide

teases the nose.

Drawing one eyed Jacks,

we drag the coffin towards

Palm Desert

for another anonymous

burial.

At noon we’ll face

Gary Cooper

in a showdown to end all

showdowns.

Who was that masked man

who rode from town

w/ the payroll wagon

and the ten-dollar whore?

Who led the banditos

as they rode eight abreast

over the hills of

Silverton?

 

Dancing to the dynamite

 on the Fourth of July

Dancing to the

 Roman Candles

Dancing to the Nitro

 as it splinters the sky

Dancing to the

 citizens band handles

Dancing to the clouds

 of ash and smoke

Dancing to the

 bottle rockets

Dancing to the flash

 of the scarlet oak

Dancing to the

sparking socket.

 

 

Love Song for Kenosha Dead

 

The irony is

that we already are

ragged claws.

We scuttle with

yawps and cries,

but the silent seas sleep.

The solitary lobster leaps

for the Kenosha dead.

The erymidae weep

for the long barrel

and the dead-eye.

The king crab reigns o’er

all he surveys,

but with eyes only inches

off the silent floors,

he surveys little,

and his miniature kingdom

is washed and forgotten.

 

We yawp and cry for

Kenosha dead,

but the ragged claw

has no lung,

no vocal cord.

Our silent thunder settles

into silent dread

as our silent oceans

burn.

 

 

At a High School Football Game

 

In the back-seat

of my father’s car,

the windows were

steamed up.

She wrote missives

in the condensation,

detailing our every move.

As the football game

roared in the distance,

I knew the score.

The next time

the windows fogged up,

her message would

be read loud and clear.

The next time

the windows fogged up,

the truth would be

made plain.

We didn’t love each other, 

we barely liked each other,

but our back-seat rendezvous

was repeated every

few months.

We studied the playbook,

we learned the ropes,

we came to understand

our teenage bodies

as condensation

collected again

and again.

 

 

Executive Toe-Jam

 

As a child,

I always kept a mason jar

next to my bed.

At night,

while getting ready

to sleep,

I would slowly remove

my clothing,

one article at a time.

I would take off my shirt

and pants

and don my PJs

before I took off my socks.

I always slept barefoot

because I loved the cold sheets

on my warm feet.

Before getting into bed though,

I cleaned the crevasses

between my toes.

I collected the toe-jam

in the mason jar.

Week after week,

year after year,

my collection of toe-jam grew.

By high school,

I had shelves of those jars,

all full to the brim.

I went to college

and carefully

packed them in boxes.

They were stacked

in the corner

of my dorm room.

My roommates never knew

what those jars held.

Girlfriends asked,

but I quickly learned

that explaining my collection

meant losing the girls.

In my late twenties,

I emptied all the jars

and the toe-jam piled up

on the floor.

Nearly six feet high, it was.

At first it seemed to move

on its own.

I swear it was self-aware.

Six feet of living toe-jam.

Of course,

it struck out on its own.

The toe-jam, too,

went to college.

It too had roommates

and girlfriends.

It majored in law

with a minor in political science.

Upon graduation

from a reputable East Coast school,

the six-foot tall

toe-jam

got a job in Washington DC.

Moving up the ladder,

it made a name for itself.

Soon, it ran for president:

lost.

Four years later, however,

the six feet of toe-jam

won both the popular

and the electoral vote.

It sounds strange,

but don’t be fooled.

Check your history books;

this certainly wasn’t the first

toe-jam president,

and it probably

won’t be the last. 

 

 



Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Pushcart Nominee and a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Provenance Journal, Lavender and Lime Review, About Place, Novus Review, Fiery Scribe, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently in. Muleskinner Journal. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books.

Twitter: @aandrefpeltier

Website: www.andrefpeltier.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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